CENTENNIAL, Colo., March 13, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Westwater Resources, Inc. (Nasdaq:WWR) (“WWR” or the “Company”), an energy materials exploration and development company, announced today that its acquisition of Alabama Graphite Corp. (“AGC”) has achieved a critical milestone, as 97% of the votes cast by AGC securityholders at the AGC Special Meeting on March 9, 2018 were in favor of the transaction. Important actions going forward are:
- AGC will seek a final order from the Supreme Court of British Columbia with respect to the arrangement agreement, effectively the “final approval” of the plan of arrangement, a process expected to be complete well before the intended close of the transaction in Q2 2018.
- WWR has filed its proxy statement, setting March 5, 2018 as the record date for shareholders of record, and setting April 19, 2018 as the date upon which shareholders can vote on the issuance of WWR shares to AGC that are required to complete the acquisition.
- WWR is also conducting its Annual General Meeting of shareholders on April 19th, at which time the shareholders will be voting on a slate of directors, ratifying the selection of the independent auditor and providing an advisory vote on executive compensation.
Gareth Hatch Retained as Technical Advisor to Westwater Resources
WWR is pleased to also announce the addition of Gareth Hatch as a Technical Advisor to the team. Currently interim Chief Executive Officer of AGC, Dr. Hatch is also co-founder, President and Director of Innovations Metals Corp. (“IMC”), a private, Toronto-based company specializing in cost-effective processing solutions for metals vital to high-tech and green energy, such as rare-earth elements (“REEs”) and lithium, nickel and cobalt. Dr. Hatch is the co-inventor of IMC’s patent-pending RapidSX™ separation and purification process for these metals.
Dr. Hatch is also a Founding Principal of Technology Metals Research, LLC, a well-known advisory and consulting firm operating in the critical-materials sector. He was previously Director of Technology at U.S.-based Dexter Magnetic Technologies, Inc., and holds five patents on a variety of magnetic devices.
During 2014-2016, Dr. Hatch served as Principal Investigator on a multi-million-dollar research program on innovative processes for Rare Earth Elements (REE), funded by the U.S. Army Research Laboratory, part of the U.S. Department of Defense (“DoD”). He has advised the DoD, NATO, the European Commission (“EC”), the U.K. Parliament and members of the U.S. Congress on threats to the strategic-materials supply chain. Dr. Hatch has authored numerous peer-reviewed journal articles and has been cited by reports published by the DoD, the U.S. General Accountability Office, the U.S. Department of Energy, the U.S. Geological Survey, the British Geological Survey, the EC and many others.
A two-time graduate of the University of Birmingham in the U.K., Dr. Hatch holds a Bachelor of Engineering degree with Honours in Materials Science & Technology and a Doctor of Philosophy degree in Metallurgy & Materials, focused on rare-earth elements permanent-magnet materials.
Dr. Hatch is a Chartered Engineer and has been an advisor to the lithium and graphite supply chains since 2010. He joins the Company upon closing of our transaction, expected in Q2 2018.
“We are pleased to have Dr. Hatch on our team as we push forward with the Coosa Project, the premier battery-materials project in the United States. His technical knowledge and experience is a valuable addition to the great team we have in place for our growing battery materials business,” said Chris Jones, President and CEO of WWR.
Revised and Improved Coosa Business Plan
WWR evaluated the Preliminary Economic Assessment performed by AGC and released an improved business plan for the Coosa Graphite Project on March 1, 2018. Highlights include:
- Reduced planned initial capital expenditures by almost one third to $30.0 million, with approximately $7.0 million required initially for constructing a pilot plant.
- Increased the net present value (discounted at 8%) to $490 million from $444 million.
- Advanced revenues to 2020 from 2022.
- Advanced positive cash flow to 2021 from 2022.
- Reduced project risk through utilizing proven, environmentally sustainable processes for battery graphite production, starting the plant on widely available purchased feedstock, deferring mine construction until 2026 and utilizing operations cash flow for the mine’s capital expenditures.
- Staged the production of, now three, advanced battery materials to allow for product qualification timelines. These products are essential for the production of many battery types from lead-acid to alkaline power cells, and lithium-ion batteries.
- Plans for 2018 include the specification and construction of a pilot plant that will produce these products in significant quantities for qualification by potential customers, as well as refining design parameters for the full-scale processing facility.
- Work will continue with state and local officials in Alabama to site, permit and explore business incentives.
About Westwater Resources
WWR is focused on developing energy-related materials. The Company has developed a dominant land position in three prospective lithium brine basins in Nevada and Utah in preparation for exploration and potential development of any resources that may be discovered there. In addition, WWR remains focused on advancing the Temrezli in-situ recovery (ISR) uranium project in Central Turkey when uranium prices permit economic development of this project. WWR controls extensive exploration properties in Turkey under eight exploration and operating licenses covering approximately 39,000 acres (16,000 ha) with numerous exploration targets, including the potential satellite Sefaatli Project, which is 30 miles (48 km) southwest of the Temrezli Project. In Texas, the Company has two licensed and currently idled processing facilities and approximately 11,000 acres (4,400 ha) of prospective ISR uranium projects. In New Mexico, the Company controls mineral rights encompassing approximately 188,700 acres (76,394 ha) in the prolific Grants Mineral Belt, which is one of the largest concentrations of sandstone-hosted uranium deposits in the world. Incorporated in 1977 as Uranium Resources, Inc., WWR also owns an extensive uranium information database of historic drill hole logs, assay certificates, maps and technical reports for the Western United States.
Furthermore, on December 13, 2017, WWR announced it had entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Alabama Graphite Corp. (AGC) (TSX-V:CSPG) (OTCQB:CSPGF) pursuant to an arrangement agreement and plan of arrangement. The primary asset of AGC is the Coosa graphite project, located across 41,900 acres in east-central Alabama. Finalization of the acquisition is subject to shareholder votes, as well as customary regulatory agency and court approvals. Closing of the acquisition is targeted for the second quarter of 2018.
This news release contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Forward-looking statements are subject to risks, uncertainties and assumptions and are identified by words such as “expects,” “estimates,” “projects,” “anticipates,” “believes,” “could,” and other similar words. All statements addressing events or developments that WWR expects or anticipates will occur in the future, including but not limited to statements relating to developments at the Company’s projects, the potential improvements contained in WWE’s initial optimization study of the Coosa Project and the expected timing and closing of the merger, are forward-looking statements. Because they are forward-looking, they should be evaluated in light of important risk factors and uncertainties. These risk factors and uncertainties include, but are not limited to, (a) the Company’s ability to close its transaction with AGC and successfully integrate AGC’s business into its own, and the risk that additional analysis of the Coosa project may result in revisions to the findings of WWR’s initial optimization study; (b) the Company’s ability to raise additional capital in the future; (c) spot price and long-term contract price of graphite, uranium and lithium; (d) risks associated with our foreign and domestic operations; (e) operating conditions at the Company’s projects; (f) government and tribal regulation of the graphite industry, uranium industry, the lithium industry, and the power industry; (g) world-wide graphite, uranium and lithium supply and demand, including the supply and demand for lithium-based batteries; (h) maintaining sufficient financial assurance in the form of sufficiently collateralized surety instruments; (i) unanticipated geological, processing, regulatory and legal or other problems the Company may encounter in the jurisdictions where the Company operates or intends to operate, including in Alabama, Texas, New Mexico, Utah, Nevada and Republic of Turkey; (j) the ability of the Company to enter into and successfully close acquisitions or other material transactions, (k) the results of the Company’s lithium brine exploration activities at the Columbus Basin, Railroad Valley, and Sal Rica projects, and the possibility that future exploration results may be materially less promising than initial exploration result; (l) any graphite, lithium or uranium discoveries not being in high enough concentration to make it economic to extract the metals; and (m) other factors which are more fully described in the Company’s Annual Report on Form 10-K, Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q, and other filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Should one or more of these risks or uncertainties materialize or should any of the Company’s underlying assumptions prove incorrect, actual results may vary materially from those currently anticipated. In addition, undue reliance should not be placed on the Company’s forward-looking statements. Except as required by law, the Company disclaims any obligation to update or publicly announce any revisions to any of the forward-looking statements contained in this news release. The results of the initial optimization study are preliminary in nature and subject to revision following WWR’s further analysis of the Coosa project.
Westwater Resources Contact:
Christopher M. Jones, President and CEO
Jeffrey L. Vigil, VP Finance and CFO